It’s rather claustrophobic when you’re inside a Winnipeg spring blizzard. The cat, dog and I stare out the window at the fresh white stuff falling on top of the dirty remains of last November’s first snow and . . . and what? After a long, cold, pandemic winter, now slip-sliding through an April blizzard and a deepening war, bad-news stress is a real thing. Here's a link

We can’t change the weather. All our wishing and hoping and rationalizing will not change the weather one iota. So the cat arches his back, does a three sixty in his favourite spot, kneads himself comfy, and goes back to hibernation mode. 

Meanwhile, the dog and I will do our twice daily rounds, using the street, not the snowed-in sidewalks and we’ll notice, like we always do, that walking in a storm is not as bad as it looks. In fact, it’s rather fun. Back inside, we’ll hunker down in the cozy warmth of home with renewed appreciation. 

But there’s another claustrophobia bearing down on me. This one has nothing to do with the weather or the pandemic. It’s the war news. It’s one thing to research past wars and to step into past lives and write about them. But there’s something mentally oppressive to also hear about a current war happening in the zone of my historical and fictional interest. 

Do I do what the cat does and shut it out or do I follow the dog into the conflict? Of course, an old woman like me would be useless in a war zone and my meager dollars are but a drop in the bucket of humanitarian need. But I can’t follow the cat’s lead. I can’t just grow tired of it and go back to sleep until it’s over. 

I’m fortunate to have connections to both the Ukrainian and Russian side. Stepping into their boots, if only for a few minutes, reminds me that this war is not just headline news. Like me and my two pets, the people caught in this conflict zone also yearn for spring and new growth. 

I have faith that spring will come. If only I could apply that same faith towards peace in Eastern Europe. While I keep the shovel handy and wear waterproof boots, others stockpile weapons and ammunition.

The growling snow plough, barging down my street, is not a Russian tank and I will not complain about this Easter’s blizzard. No! Nyet! Ni!

Staying informed, trying to understand & reaching out beats curling up and tuning out. Sorry, cat. I'm with the dog on this one. 

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